Tag Archives: work

…Second Impressions of Life in Seoul

Some vignettes:

Tea here is exceedingly expensive. When you sit down to a meal and look at the drink menu, nearly everything starts at around $5, and there are no free refills. There are coffee and tea shops on every corner, midway through every block, and even more often than that, however, they’re also really expensive. Even Starbucks’ cheapest option is $3, and that’s for one tea bag in the smallest cup possible. Since I go there occasionally to work on writing, I try to look at that $3 as a chair rental fee. The cost is still a bit harsh after the $1 cups of tea I used to nurse all day with free water refills at the coffee shops where I wrote my dissertation in the Berkeley/Oakland area.

Now that the winter is over (more or less), I feel a lot more optomistic about life here. Still rather lonely and having a hard time meeting people on a more than superficial cocktail party conversation level (as is a complaint of nearly every ‘trailing spouse’ at some time or another, if not always), but at least going outside isn’t a battle with death. Neko and I have been on a few walks in the neighborhood, and visted some playgrounds, all of which are way too big for her to enjoy without active participation from me. That, of course, is getting increasingly difficult as the arrival of Panda-baby comes ever closer. Luckily, Neko enjoys the novelty of just being outside in our yard and poking at the mud. The psuedo-American neighborhood is nice for that kind of thing, even if you feel very isolated from the rest of the city.

Most of our adventuring happens on the weekends, when Mr. Adventure can come along. We hit a big palace over Lunar New Years, an aquarium in an underground mall, a nearby street full of foreign foods and sock vendors, and spent an entire day wandering through Gangnam (of Gangnam-Style fame) in search of a particular camera store. Mr. Adventure’s starting a photography class this weekend, so I am guessing he’ll get some assignments that will take us out and about in new places, but we’ve been saving some of the more interesting sights for the wave of potential visitors that might come our way (and yes, there’s room for you!).

The house is coming together, but the lack of useful storage has hampered the process a bit. The closet floors are all sloped at a 45 degree angle, to keep your shoes neatly displayed, it would seem, but that just means you can’t store anything other than shoes in the closet. So, even though we have great closets, we just don’t have enough hanging items to fill them, and everything else we put in there comes tumbling out when the doors open. In the kitchen there is only one bank of three drawers, all of them are 8″ deep. So, we put our utensils in one, our cooking tools in another, and our towels in the bottom. But, for everything else that might be drawer-worthy, we haven’t found a good solution. Shelves are wasted on ziploc bag boxes or cookie cutters, for example. We’re still puzzling it out. Neko’s penchant for unloading things has also meant that the bottom drawer is perpetually in disarray, or dumped on the floor, and that all our trash bins have to be displayed on tables or other furniture. It’s not very aesthetically pleasing. Once we finish hanging the remaining artwork, however, we’ll take some photos to show it all off.

Most recently, I wrote a chapter for an upcoming book on “how tos” related to foreign service life. I think it will be out this summer, and I’ll link you to it then. It was a fun little project, and I’d enjoy doing more things like that. I’ve also been tutoring and odd-jobbing it, as I was the first year in Dhaka. I’m going to be a stuffed animal doctor this weekend, for example, gotta use those mad sewing skills. I wonder if that would be a more steady source of clients than editing is…. 🙂

…Examinations and Finishes

Whew, what a week.

You might not know that I’ve been working on a PhD for what seems like my entire life. It’s made me stupider in some ways, smarter (?) in others, and generally convinced that I take criticism wayyyy tooo personally. However, all that self awareness aside, the best part of the PhD is that it is now OVER. Yes, the good news is that I passed my doctoral defense this week with only eeny meeny corrections, and as of 2011, can call myself Doctor Adventure.

(That sounds like a really cheesy character in a comic book).

And, I also took the Foreign Service exam, yet again. Whoo hoo. I think once you take it the 4th time, it’s no longer as exciting. I took it the first time in 2004, and passed, back when the test lasted pretty much all day, and tested a lot more things. Now, the test is shorter, possibly easier (or is it just that I’ve taken it so often I have seen all the questions before?), and graded on a curve such that the top x% of takers “pass” regardless of score. There were some lovely essays to write, multiple choice questions on math, pop culture, American history, world politics… and grammar. YEAH. I heart the grammar section.

Anyway, after this test, there’s an essay to write, and an oral exam/interview/group work evaluation to do, assuming I pass through each hurdle. And, then, you wait on a list of people who qualify for the job for many months, before doing it all again because there are a lot of good candidates, and your number never came up. So, we’ll see where this test takes me.

It would be really nice for the Adventures to be a tandem couple; both of us like to be doing ‘important things.’ Let’s hope DoS thinks we should be one too.


“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….” well, except for the lack of snow and Christmas decor while we await our big shipment (should be here next week!)

But, in good news:

1. We think we’ve bought a car. Of course, the last 2 cars completely fell through, but at this point we’ve had an inspection and handed over a check-to-be-cashed, so we’re pretty confident this one will work out. It’s a bit bigger than the MINI, but still no road monster. It’s called a Mazda Demio and looks a bit like this, but I really just borrowed this pic from an old used-car ad. Supposedly it’s got more room in the trunk than the MINI, and that second set of doors will come in handy when we’re trying to ride behind our future “driver.” So, I guess we’ll be adding to our household staff soon.

2. We received a present! It’s sitting under the 1.5′ tree we have until our stuff comes, next to a pinecone and a snowman, each about 2-3″ tall. It’s a tiny Christmas.

3. The weather is AWESOME. Generally clear, but not hot. The locals are bundled up in scarves and gloves, but I think it’s about 75 out?

4. I sent in my dissertation draft last week, the one which is supposed to be the last one. But, haven’t heard whether it is yet.

5. We’ve already been to two Xmas parties, and since we couldn’t get enough pie, I made a cherry one yesterday. YUM.

6. I’m applying for a job here at the embassy, so keep your hopes up for me. It seems right up my alley, and in line with my training and career experience. Someone else wondered to me whether there was any one here who could even fulfill the specified requirements and limitations, but I think I do… so here’s hoping! It would be my highest paid gig yet, if you don’t count the various perks of working as the faculty-in-residence including free housing.

So, once again, not a particularly substantive post, but a busy week of emailing, hoping, and applying, in relation to #4 and #6.